Roger Federer beat giant-killer Mischa Zverev to become the Australian Open’s oldest men’s semi-finalist in nearly 40 years on Tuesday, as fellow veteran Venus Williams also rolled back the years.
The stylish Swiss made light of the challenge posed by German serve-volleyer Zverev, who stunned top seed Andy Murray in the fourth round, to reach a record-extending 41st Grand Slam semi-final.
Federer won 6-1, 7-5, 6-2 in just 92 minutes to set up a last-four clash with his compatriot Stan Wawrinka, who won a bad-tempered quarter-final with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-3.
The 35-year-old Federer becomes the tournament’s oldest semi-finalist since Arthur Ashe in 1978, and the oldest at any Grand Slam since Jimmy Connors reached the 1991 US Open last four aged 39.
The draw has opened up invitingly for Federer, a four-time winner in Melbourne, and 2014 champion Wawrinka, as well as fellow thirty-something Rafael Nadal after the exits of Murray and title-holder Novak Djokovic.
“I’m happy for (Wawrinka) that he got this far, but he doesn’t need to go one step further,” Federer joked. “That’s enough.”
Earlier Wawrinka and France’s Tsonga, who have been at odds in the past, argued heatedly at the first-set changeover before the Swiss charged into his third Melbourne semi-final.
“In the semis I play Roger. It’s going to be tough to have some fans but I hope some people will cheer for me,” said Wawrinka, 31.